While WizKid has long-established his stake as an undisputed forerunner back home throughout Africa, the Nigerian superstar got his taste of the dividends of crossing over with Drake’s seal of approval via a “One Dance” feature back in 2016.
Since then, the Afrobeat titan has spent the last four years weaving duality as he battles with capitalizing on the commercial catapult that serves as the foundation for his recording contract with RCA while also keeping his stronghold in the markets of African natives and the diaspora alike. In the three years since his major-label debut, Sounds From The Other Side, it seems that Wizkid has quietly tiptoed with the latter, eyeing great expansion with cuts such as “Fever,” “Ghetto Love,” and “Joro” among many others, establishing a slow blend of afrobeat, highlife and dancehall themes to construct a defined sound.
Still, proof of its ability to resonate with more unfamiliar markets hasn’t prevailed with WizKid cleverly addressing such complications by releasing full bodies of work under his Starboy imprint and collaborating with plenty of producers on their own titled cuts, free of label obligations. Yet as he arrives with his fourth career album, Made In Lagos, WizKid has finally conquered the balance rope, proudly displaying an accomplished sound a decade in the making.
At first glance, the star power of chosen collaborators across the 14 track effort marks the most obvious leg of this multi-pronged approach to pull Wizkid in the direction of global conquest. Those paying attention will find that Made In Lagos boasts a continuation of the sonic success found on Starboy’s SoundMan Vol. 1 output.
This time around, however, Wizkid successfully crosses borders to compound effectively. On “Smile”, Caribbean soundscapes adorn the catalog while label mate H.E.R. lends flowy vocals in a duet that has immediately captured fans stateside. African Giant Burna Boy trades off on star power on “Ginger” and the two exchange in a friendly fight for command on the energetic cut. On selections such as “Piece Of Me” and “Essence”, singers Ella Mai and Tems offer respective smoldering performances that underscore Wizkid’s own propensity to craft sultry standouts that resonate across markets. All the while, no one appearance powers through enough to elevate the project past any threshold already set by Wiz himself.
He makes room for proper inspection on solo outings found on Made In Lagos. “Mighty Wine,” “No Stress,” and “Gyrate,” for instance, find Wizkid in his element, cutting sensual anthems to score late night bashments and the like.
On the other hand, he leads with bouncy braggadocio on tracks like projct opener “Reckless” and the Damian Marley-assisted “Blessed.”
“I know sey dem go pray on my downfall/I’m still a winner,” he declares (“Reckless”), setting the bar for his own expectations. It signals a tone of conviction as Wizkd comfortably wades in his aural sweet spot. In 2020, his legacy is fastened. He’s less focused on awareness of his product and is rather laser-focused on expansion.
In that spirit, Made In Lagos, which was first delayed due to brewing violence on the homefront as WizKid took a pause to join in solidarity with the #ENDSARS movement, interestingly takes both the form of a wondrous homecoming and a bittersweet homegoing as Wiz begins to strategically taper into the rest of the world on his own merit. While the effort doesn’t sonically push the boundaries beyond what Wizkid has been crafting within the past few years, it does mark a safe formula that has the potential to finally solidify him as an undisputed heavyweight throughout the rest of the world.